By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Toronto’s affordability crisis has become hard to ignore for most. The results of an inflated economy can be seen daily on the streets. As a result of an economic downturn in 2021, Scarborough experienced one of the highest increases in the number of food bank clients.
One food bank in southwest Scarborough that has found it increasingly difficult to maintain the necessary level of assistance needed to serve the community is Bluffs Food Bank (BFB).
The not-for-profit organization, which had initially hoped for its services to be a temporary solution to food insecurities in the east end, has now been helping families in need for two decades.
“I don’t consider that an anniversary because an anniversary is more of a positive thing,” said a volunteer at BFB who wanted to alert Beach Metro Community News to the situation but did not want her name used in this story.
“It’s been 20 years serving the community, which is quite tragic when you think about it.”
With affordability issues worsening in the past few years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, BFB is struggling to keep up with the growing demands from families and individuals who are in need.
BFB is currently experiencing a 40 per cent increase in visits from last year.
“Right now, like all food banks, we are in a desperate situation,” said the volunteer. “Our shelves are literally bare.”
Most families who rely on the food bank’s assistance are refugees, immigrants or new Canadians from Ukraine, Syria and Mexico according to staff members at the BFB.
The food bank also serves a lot of Canadian families with parents who have lost their job during this tumultuous economic period, as well as those who work but do not make enough to keep up with the rising demands of an inflated economy.
Every week, BFB serves more than 240 families in a two-hour time frame. With three shifts comprised of five volunteers, incoming food is sorted, packed, and served to any client who shows up between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Thursdays.
In the past year, BFB has served more than 10,000 families (more than 30,000 individuals) in southwest Scarborough. This comprises more than 6,000 children and 2,500 senior citizen residents.
“Food insecurity is real, and its everywhere—it’s in our neighbourhoods,” said the volunteer.
BFB provides each family with shelf-stable foods, fresh dairy, meat and bread as well as fresh vegetables.
Although they get most of their food from Daily Bread, an organization that supplies more than 400 other food banks, BFB also relies on food donations from residents and local businesses such as Collected Joy, Corbins, Cottage City Market, M&R Property Management, Period Purse, and local realtor Shea Warrington of Shea Sells Boutique Real Estate.
With shelves laying empty, BFB is currently in need of donations of canned meat such as ham, turkey, or chicken; cold cereal; and canned soups.
Food donations are always welcomed. However, the volunteer told Beach Metro Community News that financial contributions to the food bank have much more impact in the long run.
“If we get $25 from somebody, we can buy $50 worth of groceries,” she said.
Financial donations allow for discounted food purchases from wholesalers which gives the food bank greater purchasing power.
“The great thing about the buying power of wholesale is that we know who our clients are. We know what they want,” said the volunteer. “We have to have a certain amount of products that’s halal, for instance. We know what percentage that is.”
With a client base that is largely Muslim, Halal (which is food that is permissible by the Muslim faith) is important to purchase specifically for those clients as the individuals will be unable to eat certain food items considered “haram”—items which are forbidden.
For this reason, having control over the food items that are on their shelves becomes vital to the efficiency of the BFB operation.
Still, all food donations are welcomed and anyone who would like to drop off items can do so on Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
For more information on how to help, please contact the Bluffs Food Bank at firstname.lastname@example.org, or make a financial donation through secure website at https://bluffsfoodbank.com/donate/
All online donors will receive an automatic tax receipt.
For more information on the Bluffs Food Bank, please go to https://bluffsfoodbank.com/
Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Did you enjoy this article? Become a Beach Metro Community News Supporter today! For 50 years, we have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who is making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support your Beach Metro Community News!